Shaul Saul Hirschel Berliner-Lewin (c.1740 - 1795)

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Death: Died in London, England
Managed by: Randy Schoenberg
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About Shaul Saul Hirschel Berliner-Lewin

R. Saul Hirschel was born in 1740 when his father was nineteen.

When he was twenty he was ordained by some of the greatest Rabbis of his time. At the age of twenty eight he was already serving as A.B.D. Frankurt-on-Oder and the Province of Schlesin.

Some time before 1782, becoming disenchanted with the "antiquated Rabbinical authority" he retired from the Rabbinate, and settled in Berlin where he joined the Haskala Movement. The members were admirers of Moses Mendelssohn. Unlike his father he supported Naftali H. Wessely at a time when he was most violently opposed by the most eminent German Rabbis.

He wrote a satire, Ketav Yosher, published after his death in 1794, in which he sharply criticized the educational methods, superstitions and customs which had spread among the people during his life time. It was also meant as an attempt to have Wessely's Divrei Shalom ve-Emet become Rabbinically accepted.

In 1784 he traveled to Italy, ostensibly to seek a cure for his rheumatism, but conceivably to meet the Wessely Rabbinical supporters. In Italy he wrote a pamphlet against R. Chaim Joseph David Azulai's Birkat Yosef, which appeared in Leghorn in 1772.

Becoming interested in manuscripts, R. Berlin edited Or Zaruah written by R. Isaac son of Moses of Vienna, which appeared in 1862. He also wrote Mitzpeh Yokta'el published in Berlin in 1789, where he used a pseudonym of Obadiah, son of Baruch Ish Polonia (of Poland). This contained a criticism on the Torat Yekutiel by R. Raphael son of R. Jekutiel Susskind Kohen, A.B.D. Altona-Hamburg-Wandsbeck.

The book caused a great stir among the Rabbis, including Berlin's father, who placed a ban on it and on the author.

When his father discovered the identity of its author, he tried to protect his son. Before this storm subsided, R. Saul Berlin published another controversial book, Besamim Rosh, in Berlin in 1793, together with comments entitled Kassa deHarsna. Although he claimed that he had only added notes to a manuscript by a certain R. Asher, son of Jehiel, R. Saul was strongly doubted. Because of its strong leniencies he was labelled as an atheist.

After wandering from country to country R. Saul went to London in 1794 to become their Ashkenazi Chief Rabbi, then being about fifty four years old. However, he died before entering office on November 16th (23rd of Chesvan) 1794 in London.

His wife was Sarah, daughter of R. Isaac Teomim) (see chapter 1V - Kitvei HaGeonim)


The Unbroken Chain by Neil Rosenstein (1990) Volume 11, G 9.1 page 822-823)

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Shaul Saul Berliner-Lewin's Timeline

Age 22
Age 24
Age 25
November 16, 1795
Age 55
London, England